English 24

Freshman Seminar: Pleasure, Politics, and Public Fantasy in Bollywood Cinema

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
2 Spring 2005 Joshi, Priya
M 4-5 300 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Awara (1951), Shree 420 (1955), Mother India (1957), Pyaasa (1958), Bobby (1973), Sholay (1975), Amar, Akbar, Anthony (1977), Bombay (1995), Dilwale Dulhaniya le Jayenge (1995), Dil Se (1998), Hey Ram (2000), Fiza (2000), Mohabbattein (2001)


"Every day, over twelve million people go to the movies in India. Seated on planks of wood and on the floor, in air-conditioned movie palaces and open maidans, the world's most avid cinema-goer watches the hundreds of films that roll out of the world's most prolific film industry. Our class will examine the pleasures of this cinema that has often been dismissed for being saccharine, melodramatic, and escapist. We will be watching a cluster of Hindi films made in Bombay (or Bollywood, as it is often called) from the 1950s, 1970s, and 1990s and will spend time in class discussing them. We will pay particular attention during our discussions to the manner in which these films embody public fantasies --those of gender and masculinity, religion and nation, sexuality and the state, family and friends --in an effort to examine how Bombay's blockbusters have dealt with India's preoccupation with its emerging modernity.

All films are subtitled and no prior experience of India or knowledge of Hindi is required, though it will, of course, be greatly welcomed. Course requirements include regular attendance and participation in discussions and the weekly film screenings. Students will be expected to attend weekly film screenings on Wednesdays from 4-7:30 P.M. in 300 Wheeler Hall, though they will officially enroll only in the seminar portion of the class that meets on Mondays. There will be no additional outside-of-class work required, nor any required texts. "

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